A back-and-forth battle in Hooten’s 2A Game of the Week did not disappoint in Hector’s (4-1, 1-1 5-2A) 31-30 victory over Conway Christian (4-1, 1-1 5-2A) .
But it wasn’t without controversy.
After Hector took the lead with 1:36 left in the game, Conway Christian started at its 34.
Eagle quarterback Jacob Wood and wide receiver Jesse Dather connected on a series of passes, within field goal range at the Hector 25, but the clock was ticking without timeouts.
A converted first down stopped the clock with one second left, which is where things g0t hairy.
The ball was set, but the crew chief blew the whistle to set the clock, and then promptly blew the whistle to end the game with Conway Christian lined up for a field goal attempt.This led to confusion and anger from Eagles, fans, but jubilation from the Wildcats.
Conway Christian coach Justin Kramer explained the situation.
"We were out of timeouts," he said. "We were telling our players to snap it on the whistle, so once the refs blow the whistle ready for play, we can snap it. With all the noise and the band playing, the ref assumed we heard the whistle and we snapped it. My frustration with them was as an official, he has to reset the clock. He never reset the clock. He blew it for play and called the game."
Despite this ruling, Kramer wanted to give credit to Hector for playing a well-fought game.
"Regardless, Hector played great and it’s nothing to do with them," he said.
At halftime, the two teams were separated by one point, but Conway Christian received the ball after halftime and was driving deep in Hector territory. However, Wood was intercepted for the second time in as many drives by Wildcats defensive back Brendan Landrum.
This eventually led to Hector’s first lead when running back Ethan Church ran for a 2-yard touchdown, and quarterback Jadon Graham converted the two-point conversion]for a 23-16 lead.
"It was a momentum changer and Jacob even looked at me and said, ‘I’m sorry. I just gave the momentum away,’" Kramer said. "We had talked about that at halftime. Not throwing across his body and just trying to make plays. You have a hard time getting onto a kid like that because a lot of what he does is make good plays."
Later, Conway Christian linebacker Clay Hammett blocked the punt, which set up the Eagles at Hector’s 11-.
This shifted momentum back to Conway Christian, leading to 14 unanswered points and a 30-23 lead.
"After we blocked the punt and scored 14 on them, the game went back and forth," Kramer said. "That was going to be one of those games where, whoever had it at the end. Unfortunately, they did. I felt like there was offensive pass interference on the play they scored, but it probably could have gone either way. They are probably not going to make that call.
"If we could have milked it there when we had a lot of time on the clock, we would have run our four-minute offense. We probably could have thrown the ball there. I was confident in what our defense had done, I just wanted to use every possible second we could use and give them a chance."
After Wood intercepted Graham, Conway Christian had a chance to put Hector away, but gave the Wildcats the ball back with 2:30 left on the clock with short field position.
They eventually scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Graham to Brandon Landrum, which led to a two-point conversion, taking a 31-30 lead.
"I told our guys this game doesn’t define us," Kramer said. "It just shows us we need to come back and work a little harder. We need to focus on the little things, which is something we had talked about. I felt Hector’s two touchdowns in the first half were because of blown assignments. Guys not doing their job. We just have to use that and hopefully propel us to take that next step."